Differences in BVOC oxidation and SOA formation above and below the forest canopy
Abstract. Gas-phase biogenic volatile organic compounds (BVOCs) are oxidized in the troposphere to produce secondary pollutants such as ozone (O3), organic nitrates (RONO2), and secondary organic aerosol (SOA). Two coupled zero-dimensional models have been used to investigate differences in oxidation and SOA production from isoprene and α-pinene, especially with respect to the nitrate radical (NO3), above and below a forest canopy in rural Michigan. In both modeled environments (above and below the canopy), NO3 mixing ratios are relatively small (< 0.5 pptv); however, daytime (08:00–20:00 LT) mixing ratios below the canopy are 2 to 3 times larger than those above. As a result of this difference, NO3 contributes 12 % of total daytime α-pinene oxidation below the canopy while only contributing 4 % above. Increasing background pollutant levels to simulate a more polluted suburban or peri-urban forest environment increases the average contribution of NO3 to daytime below-canopy α-pinene oxidation to 32 %. Gas-phase RONO2 produced through NO3 oxidation undergoes net transport upward from the below-canopy environment during the day, and this transport contributes up to 30 % of total NO3-derived RONO2 production above the canopy in the morning (∼ 07:00). Modeled SOA mass loadings above and below the canopy ultimately differ by less than 0.5 µg m−3, and extremely low-volatility organic compounds dominate SOA composition. Lower temperatures below the canopy cause increased partitioning of semi-volatile gas-phase products to the particle phase and up to 35 % larger SOA mass loadings of these products relative to above the canopy in the model. Including transport between above- and below-canopy environments increases above-canopy NO3-derived α-pinene RONO2 SOA mass by as much as 45 %, suggesting that below-canopy chemical processes substantially influence above-canopy SOA mass loadings, especially with regard to monoterpene-derived RONO2.